Heather Devine

Heather Devine is a Métis historian with roots in the Qu’Appelle Valley and Saulteaux Village (Baie St. Paul) in Manitoba, from the Desjarlais and Klyne families, as well as other Indigenous ancestors. Devine is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Calgary (retired 2021). She has also worked in curatorial and consulting capacities with the Archaeological Survey of Alberta, the Royal Alberta Museum, the Nickle Arts Museum, and the Canadian Museum of History. Devine’s overall scholarship focus is on Métis ethnohistory, however she is also a specialist in western Canadian history.

In the award-winning book The People Who Own Themselves: Aboriginal Ethnogenesis in a Canadian Family, 1660-1900 (2004), Devine reconstructs two hundred and fifty years of Desjarlais family history across a substantial area of North America.  She traces branches of the family in colonial Louisiana, the St. Louis, Missouri, region, and the American southwest as well as Red River and central Alberta. Devine’s extraordinary book provides a bridge between the pre-Conquest fur trade in New France to the fur trade in Rupert’s Land.  Her tracing of fur trading families over time and the across these wider regions before and after the 1760 conquest of New France provides not only an incredible feat of genealogy, but also a grounded account of the development of Metis ethnic identity among these families and their descendants.

Devine’s most recent projects studies are about J.Z. LaRocque and Metis politics in southern Saskatchewan to the mid-twentieth century and the identification and consideration of vernacular histories of Metis people and western Canada.  Her work in general addresses history research and education and Indigenous people’s roles in it.  

Contact Information:

• hdevine@ucalgary.ca • 

Select Publications:

Devine, Heather. “J.Z. LaRocque: A Métis Historian’s Account of His Family’s Experiences during the North-West Rebellion of 1885,” p. 59-91 and;

George Colpitts and Heather Devine (eds.), Finding Directions West: Readings That Locate and Dislocate Western Canada’s Past, Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary Press, 2017.

Devine, Heather.  “Jean Barman, Vernacular Historian,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 27:2 (2016)

Devine, Heather. “Preface”. In Myrna Kostash, ed. The Seven Oaks Reader, Edmonton: NeWest Press 2016.

Devine, Heather. “Being and Becoming Métis: A Personal Reflection.” In Gathering Places: Aboriginal and Fur Trade Histories, ed. Laura Peers and Carolyn Podruchny, 181-210.  Vancouver: UBC Press 2010.

Devine, Heather. “After the Spirit Sang: Aboriginal Canadians and Museum Policy in the New Millenium.” In How Canadians Communicate, ed. Bart Beaty, Gloria Filax, Rebecca Sullivan, 3rd edition, 217-239. Athabasca: Athabasca University Press, 2010. 

Devine, Heather. “New Light on the Plains Métis: The Buffalo Hunters of Pembinah, 1870-71.” In The Long Journey of a Forgotten People: Métis Identities and Family Histories, ed. David W. McNab and Ute Lischke, 197-218. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2007.

Devine, Heather. The People Who Own Themselves: Aboriginal Ethnogenesis in a Canadian Family, 1660-1900. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2004.